Lucid Dreaming and VR Workshop

Lesson One: Basics for Lucidity.

Today we are going to explore the connections between the developments in technology around VR and their implications in Lucid dreaming. At the end I will invite you to create an art piece in VR if you have a headset, inspired by some imagery from a dream, to bridge this connection and create feedback loops in your mind between these two unique states.

I believe that utilizing virtual reality not only increases dream recall, but also lucidity, as it integrates a new complex synthesis of awareness of whether one’s environment is a artistic or mental construct, or an authentic waking consensus reality.

Here are some recent articles regarding the connection between lucid dreaming and VR.

Virtual Reality Encourages Gamers to Have Lucid Dreams — The Atlantic

Lucid dreaming after playing VR : Vive (reddit.com)

Virtual reality training of lucid dreaming | Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (royalsocietypublishing.org)

When I started my personal VR journey in 2018, I already had a very colorful, whimsical, and deeply mystical dream life. Although, I was not very good at lucidity. Oftentimes when I would become aware I was dreaming, it was much like realizing I was in a video game, that it wasn’t authentic reality, and the edges of the dreamscape were much like the edges of what the coder had programmed. This awareness oftentimes was disappointing, and would pop the dream state.

I did not totally realize that on a fundamental level if was me who was coding the dream, even if subconsciously.

After using virtual reality for a number of weeks, I started noticing that I became better at recognizing when I was in a dream, and when I made these realizations, because I had been spending so much time in VR art programs, painting my own worlds and realities, that the realization it wasn't waking life, was no longer disappointing, and I wasn’t popping the dream states, I was able to engage and further explore in the environments all the sudden, while maintaining awareness I was dreaming. Soon I was able to start manipulating the environment, engaging with dream characters with this new awareness they were manifestations of aspects of my subconscious, and I was able to start using my dreams as even a kind of new psychotherapy where I could resolve long deep seated traumas, and other psychological issues that had stayed with me for years in my subconscious.

Eventually these lucid dreams evolved and became a sort of dream academy, where the characters themselves already knew I was lucid, many were “hyper-dimensional”, and transcendent in the dreams, and they lovingly presented new challenges and tasks for me to grow my skill set within the dream worlds.

I want to share with you the basics today of how to start achieving lucidity with you, in hopes that sometime soon I can start sharing with you the lessons I’ve learned from within this Dream Academy I am enrolled in!

Yes. This is real. We are going there. Get in.

We are going to cover some basic techniques for achieving lucidity. These take time, so be easy on yourself, do not go in with grand expectations overnight. The effort is worth it, trust me. The journey is beautiful, so enjoy the ride at each phase.

These will include:

Essential Oils

Herbs and Supplements

WILD wake induced lucid dreaming

How to cope with Sleep paralysis

Reality Checks

ESSENTIAL OILS

One of my favorite hacks I came across by accident, that initiated the deepening of my relationship to lucidity, about one year into my VR artistic journey, was discovering essential oils can influence dream states.

You can use your sense of smell to remind yourself what state of consciousness you are in. Before bed, anoint yourself with a specific essential oil blend that you only wear before bed. That way when you are dreaming, and smell this oil, it will be a visceral reminder that you are in fact DREAMING

I personally recommend a wonderful blend of oils called “Console” from Doterra, which has several of these oils in a nice blend.

doTERRA Console Comforting Blend Touch Roll-on | dōTERRA Essential Oils (home-essential-oils.com)

“One summer, the 19th century lucid dream researcher, Marquis d’Hervey de Saint-Deny, took a bottle of an unfamiliar scent on his travels to France. He whiffed his scent-laden handkerchief by day, making an unconscious and emotional connection between the French countryside and his chosen scent. On returning home, he put the bottle away, out of sight and out of smell.

His cunning plan was to have a servant sprinkle a few drops of the scent on his pillow at night. Lo and behold, Saint-Deny recorded dreams that took place at his vacation spot: the mountains of Ardeche.

So how did Saint-Deny program his dreams with smell?

Smells are processed in the brain’s limbic system, an area closely associated with memory and emotion. So even though the smell is not a primary sense for humans, a little whiff can evoke powerful emotions.

We also know that our dreams are emotional realms: a place where we can express strong urges and unresolved feelings from our waking days. Anything that shapes our emotions, shapes our dreams…”

Powerful essential oils known to enhance and promote lucidity in sleep include:

Lavender

Mugwort

Rose

Helichrysum

Clary sage

Sandalwood

Anise

Palo santo

Patchouli

Clove

Rosemary

Peppermint

Valerian

Jasmine

Agarwood

Blue lotus

Frankincense

Angelica root

Chamomile

Lemon balm

Study related to essential oils and dreaming

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17347444

HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS

Here is a list of herbs and supplements known to help various qualities of sleep and dreaming.

Be sure to do your own research and talk to your physician and make sure these are good options for you. Everyone’s body and chemistry are different, herbs are powerful and can interact with various medications. This is why it’s really important to talk to your GP about this before picking an herbal or dietary supplement to add to your routine.

1. 5-hydroxy-Tryptophan — promotes relaxation and sleep

2. Calea Zacatechichi — ”dream herb”- increases dream clarity and vividness

3. The African Dream Herb — ability to induce unusual dream states

4. The Blue Lotus — a relaxing and calming effect

5. Huperzine-A — clinically verified lucid dream pill, enhancing dreaming capabilities

6. The Devils Claw — inducing dreaming, as well as treating inflammation and pain

7. Ginkgo Biloba — memory enhancer *improves dream recall* and brain boost

8. Guayusa — sharpens our senses during day and night

9. The Wild Asparagus Root — spirit herb — ignite the subconscious during sleep, calming aid for meditation

10. Clary Sage — aids to create multiple dreams in deep sleep

11. Passionflower — improves sleep quality, effective insomnia treatment

12. Lemon Balm — sedative, calming effect, improve the length and quality of sleep

13. Chamomile — helps for a better, deeper and more restful sleep, associated with treating insomnia

14. Peppermint — muscle relaxant, aids for peaceful sleep and supports dream vividness

15. Burdock — effective in reducing nightmares, enhances positive dreams

16. DMAE supplement — vivid dreams. Move from vividness to lucidity with reality checks.

WILD TECHNIQUE

is a natural lucid dreaming trigger, it pairs well with meditation and relaxation techniques.

WILD allows you to let your body to fall asleep, while your mind should be still awake.

This is a result of, you are remaining absolutely still, which allows to the brain to think that you are asleep. AND You are not letting your mind fall asleep

It might sound challenging, but you don’t have to be an advanced lucid dreamer in order to use the technique. Complete relaxation but staying conscious is the important element to this technique working. I personally find that falling asleep to lectures is especially useful for this.

Also having delicious soothing tea before bed is useful for relaxation.

It does require some practice, but it can also happen quite quickly, especially when one has already slept a sleep cycle and is “going back to sleep”.

It relies a lot on your own intuition and an understanding of your own body, so the only way to figure out the technique is to tinker with it yourself.

There are 3 especially effective times when you can attempt the WILD:

  1. When you are taking a nap

During the day, If you didn’t get enough sleep the previous night, try to use WILD during a nap. Your body will be tired, so that will make it easier to ”shut down”, whereas you should keep your mind active, as you fall asleep. Keep reminding yourself that you are taking a nap, so you will remember when you start to dream, that you are in fact sleeping!

2) When you go to bed at a normal hour

When you go to bed, simply start to observe and witness the hypnagogic hallucinations as you let your body relax in pseudo meditation.

3) In the Morning.

You can also try this technique in the morning, wake up about an hour or two before you normally would, stay awake for about 5 mins or so, but do not move much, find a comfortable position, (maybe put on a soft monotone lecture or gentle toned podcast, on your phone? I love that technique) and fall asleep to it on low volume.

To make this technique useful, you should interrupt your sleep cycle and wake up after 5–6 hours of sleep.

This is known as DEILD technique (Dream Exit Induced Lucid Dreams).

It is a similar technique to WILD, but it can be done only after a few hours of sleep, as it takes advantage of the physiology of a previous sleep cycle.

Wake-Initiated Lucid Dream (WILD)

Step 1: Lay down on your back and begin to relax

  • lay down as comfortable as possible, be sure not to move at all. Do all of your lovely before bed rituals, whether thats tea, stretching, bath time, or any other useful muscle memory body oriented self care rituals. Having a routine like this will help dream recall over time! The best sleeping position for this method is on your back, even if you do not normally sleep this way
  • Be sure to really sink into the relaxation and not move. This is vital for the physiological effects.
  • Breathe deep and slowly. Completely free your mind and focus on the darkness of your closed eyes. Focus on your breathing
    If you have thoughts, allow them to happen and let them go, do not stress out about them, and remind yourself you can think them later.
  • The first step should take between 10–20 minutes.
    It usually depends on how tired are you, how much did you practice the technique, etc.
    It is important to not think about the time though. Just focus and be sure to completely relax.

Step 2: Examine your hypnagogic state

After you are in a totally relaxed state, you might start seeing some images and shapes.

Hypnagogia or “hypnagogic hallucinations“ is the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep.

It often includes visions, sounds, and bodily sensations.

Remain calm, stay relaxed,

Observe the hypnagogic state and make an effort to remain conscious. This state is like a free mystical experience. Do you see faces? Flowing shapes? Geometry? Relish this incredible moment and gift. The more you relax and let go the more the images flow.

Use this unique hallucinogenic state to prepare your mind for the free form experience of your dream

If you want to direct your dream, now is a good time to seed your mind with the concepts you wish to encounter.

Step 3: Create a dream scene

You want to take advantage of the visual hypnagogia and may want to use your will to influence the dream scene. Or you may wish to open yourself up to the subconscious to show you what you need to observe or work on

Start cultivating in your mind the aspects you want to see in your dream landscape.

Choose a simple setting for your dream, some thing slow, nothing overly complex in its elements. The woods, or a beach, of a field of wildflowers are nice suggestions.

As this environment comes into resolution, imagine yourself populating it.

Making sure you look down at your hands is a useful way to ground your sense of presence in the dream environment. Next look further down at your feet. Connect with this dream body for a moment to solidify your signal here in this new place.

Try to move around, you may find that if your lucid you may float more than walk, try to ground yourself or influence your momentum in whichever way is most effective. I personally float alot in lucidity. Practice will refine your ability to achieve this.

Step 5: Stabilize your lucid dream

  • In the beginning you may have an unstable lucidity, this is completely normal and not to be worried about. Practice is the only way to train your mind to remain calm when you realize you are in a lucid dream,
  • Sometimes when we realize we are aware and “awake” in a dream we get too excited, and we pop the dream state like a soap bubble. Stay calm, observe the environment, appreciate the amazing visual capacity of your mind to paint this beautiful experience.
  • Lucid dreaming is a wonderful way to connect with spirit and your psyche. Soak up the blessing and move slow.
  • You may not be able to control the dream, and that is okay if thats the case. Observation, and starting small are key to grow into the skill set. Pick something you want to influence, a color, a shape, maybe even of what you are wearing, or what you look like. Try and change that thing, then maybe even move onto architecture!

SLEEP PARALYSIS

Learning to recognize sleep paralysis is an important part of safeguarding yourself from this negative experience should it happen during your lucid dreaming journey. Many students of these practices will encounter sleep paralysis at least once in their lives. I myself have experienced it about 4 times. People often experience intense fear, a distinct inability to move, and the sensation of evil or frightening entities who want to harm you in the room with you. They can appear as demons, ghosts, home intruders, monsters, incubi/succubi, and other malevolent beings. When this happens, try to wiggle a part of your body to send signals from your brain to wake up. This will not be easy. If you are able to recognize it is SP, remind yourself that this is a sleep paralysis, and tell yourself you’re safe. This is an ancient and timeless human experience, it’s frightening but it’s also a part of the human psyche. Being brave here has the potential to give you an ultimate armor from stress and fear in any state of consciousness. Transmute it and use it as an opportunity to grow and banish the powerful grip of fear and unpleasant experiences in the rest of your life. Understanding sleep paralysis is your best tool to recognize it, and work through it as powerfully as possible when it comes up.

REALITY CHECKS

Some useful reality checks to initiate lucidity while already in a dream state include:

Looking at clocks.

Oftentimes many people are unable to see legible numbers or letters while dreaming. (others may be able to, so be sure to pick reality checks that are relevant to your particular experiences)

Light switches

Another one, as you may know from the wonderful film, Waking Life, is the classic Light switch test. Find a light switch in your environment and see if it affects the environment.

Reading.

Find a sign or some other word in the environment. If it’s strangely illegible or wonky looking, and you have no pre existing issue reading. you’re likely in a dream construct.

Additional Resources for lucid dreaming:

As we move into the more advanced parts of this workshop series, I invite you to pick up a very important book that will serve as an invaluable resource during our exploration.

Dreaming Wide Awake by David Jay Brown is an extensive exploration of Lucid dreaming and psychedelia throughout history, going from shamanic and mystical cultures to modern scientific lucid dreaming research. David is a dear friend and colleague, my mentor and a brilliant mind. His influence has been fundamental in my journey as a psychonaut and writer. I think this book will serve you well in this journey. You can find it here at this link:

Dreaming Wide Awake by David Jay Brown

Next Lesson:

ARCHIVER OF MEMORY

What if I told you there is a guardian of all your memories, even ones you can’t recall easily, especially dreams.

We will explore this concept later, but I want to plant the seed of awareness in your mind. In part two, I will share the story behind this Achiever.

This character is like a sort of anthropomorphized memory palace. The Archiver can grant you access to the dream memories. Our dreams really are reflections of the psyche, Jungian psychology explores these ideas, but it’s possible for individuals to interpret their own dreams as well.

Editor and Writer: Sara Phinn: Artist. Performer. Philosopher. Futurist.